How to Make Sound Decisions

  • Post category:Resources
  • Post last modified:February 16, 2023

I built a Google Sheet to make decisions in my own life and it was so convenient that I decided to share it.

You can download the sheet here (it’s free).

But make sure you understand how it works first (it’s not rocket science).

You can watch the video if you don’t want to read the article.

Explaining how the Decision-making Matrix works.

There are four ways to make your decisions:

  1. The simple way
  2. The weighted-average way
  3. The plus-minus way
  4. The qualitative way

We’ll see how they work in that order.

1. The Simple Way

Let’s say we need to make the decision to move to Denmark, Spain, or to stay home.

The first thing we need to do is identify the highest level of decision.

In this case, it comes down to:

  1. Staying home.
  2. Moving abroad.

That’s the first level.

image 14
Move or stay is the first decision you need to make.

Let’s say we decide to move and look at the options we have.

In Spain, we have Barcelona, Valencia, or Sevilla. And in Denmark, Copenhagen. That’s the 2nd level.

For the sake of the example, we’ll only use Copenhagen (Denmark) and Barcelona (Spain) (the 3rd level).

image 15
The second level of the Simple Way sheet.

The decisions we make are based on criteria that matter to use.

In this case, I chose:

  • Weather
  • People
  • Taxes
  • Food
  • Prices
  • Job
image 16
Notice the criteria we’re going to use in this example.

It’s pretty standard. You could also add “safety”, “nature” or “easiness to find an apartment”. Add everything that matters to you as criteria to make your decision.

The sheet has been set up to automatically add the points you write in the columns.

Let’s fill up the sheet.

image 17
The sheet automatically adds the points you write in the columns.

Overall, seems like moving to Barcelona is a better decision. The job is not as great as in Denmark, but Barcelona beats Denmark for every other criterion.

This sheet was built on the idea that every criterion is equal to one another. On the sheet, weather equals taxes, food, prices, etc.

In real life, we have preferences for every criterion.

To some people, taxes or people are more important than weather or food.

This is why I have built a version of the sheet that takes this into consideration.

2. The Weighted-Average Way

Don’t be afraid of the words. Weighted-average just means that we will assign importance to each criterion.

image 19
This sheet welcomes a multiplication for each variable.

As you can see, I have added two new columns.

  • WA (max3): it means weighted-average. You will add how important each criterion is to you, from 1 to 3. Why 3? Because things are rarely more than 3 times more important than other things. If you add a multiplication higher than 3, you won’t make a sound, balanced decision.
  • Total: the column total simply multiplies the points you assign to each criterion (in the column P+) by the WA multiplicator.

Let’s see what it looks like with the same numbers we’ve used previously.

image 20
The WA matrix delivers more nuanced results.

As we can see, the difference between these two scores is only 10%, while it was 25% for the simple decision-making method.

This method works as long as we have only positive criteria.

But many people would not move somewhere because of a specific criterion.

In this case, the criterion becomes negative and instead of adding few points to the total, it subtracts them.

Let’s see how it works.

3. The Plus-Minus Way

The plus-minus way enables the addition of points for positive criteria and the subtraction of points for negative ones.

It requires you to change your mindset for negative criteria.

People, for example, could be a positive criterion for Spain, but a negative one for, say, Estonia.

For Denmark, it’s probably neither positive nor negative.

Taxes would likely be negative for Spain and Denmark, neutral for Bulgaria, and positive for Dubai.

It’s important to consider each criterion and see if it adds value to your choice, or decreases value.

Not so easy to do.

image 21
Here you can subtract points for each option.

Here we see how the score can change. The weather in Spain is amazing, so it keeps its 9. The weather in Denmark (cold and dark in winter) is actually a reason NOT to move there, so it gets a -1.

In the end, moving to Spain (well, Barcelona) looks in this example twice at better as moving to Copenhagen.

4. The Qualitative Way

Finally, the last way is the qualitative way. No math here, only feelings.

When you read what’s written, the decision seems to be much more 50/50 than the quantitative decision we have made above.

image 22
Feelings-based decision-making.

The qualitative way should not be disregarded either.

I have made many decisions with math like those above that I actually didn’t “feel” like making and that ended up not being bad decisions.

I don’t think people should do stuff they really don’t feel like doing at all.

I am persuaded that deep down, we know what we should do, and what we shouldn’t.

Don’t disregard your feelings.


Making decisions is not easy, and writing them down is one of the best things you can do.

You can get your decision-making matrix here, it’s completely free.

Happy choosing!

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Photo by Glade Optics on Unsplash

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